Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward

No. 1490.]

Sir: A person passing under the name of Berry, or Bowry, was arrested a few days ago in the streets of this city and brought before one of the magistrates on a charge of being concerned in the Fenian conspiracy against this government. In the course of the examination it was sufficiently proved that his real name was Ricord O. S. Burke.

The evidence was thought sufficient to justify his solicitor in counting upon his being held for trial at the central criminal court.

I have the honor to transmit a copy of the London Times, containing the report of the preliminary proceedings.

The relatives of Mr. Burke have engaged legal assistance in his behalf. But the solicitor, Mr. Norton, writes to me that he has no funds with which to pay for it, and forwards an application from him for assistance at the public expense. I have written in reply to the effect that I have no funds to dispose of for that purpose, and no authority to make any engagement without instructions from the government. To this answer the solicitor has responded by requesting me, on Mr. Burke’s behalf, to apply to you for the requisite authority.

On examination of the Army Begister of the United States, it appears that one Ricord O. S. Burke, whom I presume to be the same person, served in the 15th regiment of New York engineers, first as a second lieutenant and afterwards as captain, during a portion of the war.

On the 6th of December, 1865, he applied to this legation for advice and protection, he having been subjected to arrest and examination on his arrival at Liverpool on suspicion of treasonable designs, which he entirely disavowed.

He denied that he was a Fenian, although his sympathies were with them.

He had been released, and reported himself to be then in lodgings at No. 4 Suffolk Place, Bermondsey, London, a distant portion of the town, on the south side of the river.

[Page 32]

A passport was supplied to him, and he was cautioned to be prudent at that period of excitement, and, in case of its increasing, he was advised to withdraw at least for a season to the other side of the channel. Since that date, nothing has been heard of him until the moment of his arrest and present application.

I have stated these circumstances in full, for the purpose of providing you with all the information in my power to enable you to judge of the propriety of his application. I am, moreover, informed that the trial will probably come on before the end of the month. Hence, if you should have instructions to give, it may be advisable to forward them by telegraph.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

The Fenian conspiracy.

Adjourned examination of Burke and Casey.

On Saturday Sir Thomas Henry sat specially at Bow street police court for the further investigation of the charge of treason-felony preferred against Ricord Burke, a colonel in the so-called Fenian army, alias Bowry, alias Berry, alias Winslow, and the minor charge of assaulting Inspector Thompson, of the detective force, in the execution of his duty, preferred against the above-mentioned prisoner and Joseph Theobald Casey, conjointly.

Mr. Poland, instructed by Mr. Pollard, of the treasury solicitor’s office, appeared, as before, for the prosecution. With regard to the defense a difficulty arose, as two learned counsel were in attendance—Dr. Kenealy, who informed the magistrate that he was instructed for both prisoners by Mr. Norton, and Mr. Griffiths, instructed by Mr. Ring for the prisoner Burke. Considerable discussion arose on this point. Sir Thomas Henry pointed out that the prisoner was to elect which gentleman he considered to be his solicitor, Mr. Ring or Mr. Norton. Burke had some difficulty in making the selection. He had certainly seen Mr. Ring, but had become uneasy at that gentleman not keeping an appointment. That, however, might be no ground of blame against Mr. Ring, who might have been engaged elsewhere in his interests. Mr. Norton said he had been instructed by Casey’s brother. The prisoner expressed a wish to see Mr. Ring before deciding. Mr. Ring, however, was absent, though Mr. Abrams, of Bow street, appeared to represent him, assisted by Mr. Ring’s managing clerk, who said that Mr. Ring was under examination as a witness at the lord mayor’s court, but would probably arrive very soon. Mr. Griffiths said that he had in his hand papers submitted to him by Mr. Ring, including notes in the colonel’s handwriting. Burke requested to have them returned before he formed his decision, but Sir Thomas Henry thought the learned counsel could not be called upon to give up the documents to any one but the solicitor from whom he had received them. Both learned counsel and also Mr. Norton expressed their readiness to abide by “the colonel’s choice.” [It was noticed that Burke did not demur to being repeatedly called “the colonel” or “Colonel Burke,” but seemed rather to acquiesce in it, replying without hesitation when so addressed.] Burke observed that he could find work for both gentlemen, and, as he could come to no decision till he had seen Mr. Ring, expressed his readiness to proceed, if they would act conjointly until Mr. Ring arrived. Dr. Kenealy, however, objected to this. He was quite ready to proceed as the colonel’s counsel, if it was distinctly understood that the solicitor by whom he was instructed was recognized as the defendant’s attorney. Otherwise he must withdraw. The decision must be made at once.

Colonel Burke said he would elect that Mr. Norton should be his solicitor, temporarily at all events, but he should wish to see Mr. Ring at the earliest opportunity.

Sir Thomas Henry said every opportunity would be afforded him.

[In the course of the day Mr. Ring attended, and it was arranged that he should have a private interview with Burke at the close of the proceedings.]

Colonel Burke then requested that all the witnesses should be ordered out of court.

Sir Thomas Henry gave the order, but remarked that as the colonel had now accepted [Page 33] Dr. Kenealy as his counsel he must leave his defense in the hands of that gentleman, who would no doubt make every application that was necessary for his protection.

Colonel Burke. Then I wished to be placed in a position to communicate freely with my legal adviser.

Mr. Norton accordingly changed his seat to one nearer to the prisoner’s dock, and in such a position as rendered communication between them perfectly easy.

Colonel Burke then asked for “writing materials and facilities for writing,” in which respect also he was accommodated.

At the request of Dr. Kenealy, the evidence of Devany, as given at the first examination, was read over by the second clerk, Mr. Humphreys.

Godfrey Massey was then sworn: I am a native of Ireland, and went to America in 1856. I joined the American service at the time of the civil war. I held the rank of lieutenant colonel when that war ceased. In August, 1865, I joined the Fenian Brotherhood at Houston. I took no oath or pledge. I went to New York, where I arrived October, 1866. Between those times I was engaged in a commercial position at New Orleans. I kept up my influence; was a Fenian as far as my acts went, and did as much for the cause as I possibly could do. I knew James Stephens—rather well, too. I first knew him in New York. The object of the Fenian Brotherhood was the establishment of a republic in Ireland. I first saw Stephens early in October last. He had an office at 19 Chatham street, New York. He was the chief organizer of the Fenian movement. I have heard an account from him of his escape from prison and from Dublin by the assistance of friends within and without the prison. I knew Colonel Kelley in New York about this time. He was Stephens’s deputy. I knew Burke in New York, at 19 Chatham street. I don’t known that he held any distinct position in the brotherhood. I knew him as Captain Burke. I knew all three intimately. I knew Stephens’s private residence in East Thirteenth and West Eleventh streets. I have seen the prisoner at Stephens’s. I knew another person who was called Colonel Burke, (I think by courtesy,) and I gave evidence at his trial in Ireland. I knew McHafferty, Halpin, and Cluseret, who were all concerned in the movement. I gave evidence at the trial of M’Halpin. I have seen the prisoner in company with Kelly, McHafferty, and, I think, with Colonel Burke. I don’t know that he was acquainted with General Cluseret. There was a meeting in New York, at which a discussion took place about the number of arms that could be obtained. It was a mixed meeting of military and non-military men. Burke was there, and said he had not nearly the number of arms he expected to have. He expected a minimum of 30,000, and only 4,000 to 5,000 had actually been obtained. They also spoke about the rising in Ireland, which was to have taken place at the next new year. That has now gone by. That meeting was held at East Thirteenth street. A day or two afterwards a purely military meeting was held, at which the same persons were present, except the non-military men. The discussion turned on the rising, and several officers volunteered to go. I can’t say if the time of the rising was fixed, but the rising was determined on, and the officers volunteered to go to different parts of England. Their names were taken down by Kelly. I was one of those who volunteered, and my name was taken down with the rest, and five days after this occurrence Stephens was repudiated because he was insincere, having deceived both officers and others, and being also grossly incompetent in a military point of view. After that, Kelly acted in his place. I left New York on the 11th of January. I was not accompanied by any of the other military men. I believe Burke had sailed previously. I landed at Liverpool and proceeded to London, where I saw Burke not more than a day after my arrival. We met near a public house, of which I do not recollect the name. I do not remember what conversation we had. We afterwards lived together at 7 Tavistock street, in one room on the top loft. I do not know that he told me he had lived there when he was in London before. We went there in January, and I left on the 10th or 11th of February, he having left some days before. He went by the name of Wallis, and I by that of Cleburne. While in London I met all or nearly all the officers that I had known on the other side, and some that, I had never seen before. Among others, I met Colonel Kelly, who was lodging at 5 North Crescent, Tottingham Court road. I have been there. I should know the landlord if I saw him, and should know his name. It was something like “Farrici.” (Afterwards, being asked if it was “Fredorici,” the witness replied, “That is it.”) He was an Italian or German. Kelly was known as “Coleman,” and Halpin as “Fletcher.” Kelly was the chief of the Fenian body in London, and the organization and mobilization of the forces in Ireland was intrusted to my direction. I gave instructions to Burke, appointing him to Macroom, in the county of Cork. He was to make himself acquainted with the resources of the district, and when the risingdid take place to destroy the means of communication, so as to force the regular army to march more on an equality with us. The telegraph wires were to be cut and the railways “tapped.” By that expression I mean that small breaches were to be made in the iron work, so as to render communication impossible, or delay it, but that the lines were not to be destroyed for any distance. There were other officers at Macroom, but Burke was the senior. He was to communicate with the “centers,” of course, that being the only way he could make himself acquainted, as I directed him to do, [Page 34] with the resources of the district. A center is the head of an organization, corresponding, you may say, with a county. I brought some money with me from America—£550 sterling in gold, which I had received from Colonel Kelly. Before Burke left I gave him from £15 to £20, and I gave sums, varying from £15 to £30, to all the officers in London. At that time I did not know which was to be the night for the rising; it was not fixed before Burke left London. After he left, I was at a meeting at Kelly’s private residence. That was on Sunday, the 10th of February; Kelly was there, and also three delegates from Ireland, viz, Mahoney, of Cork, Burn, of Dublin, and Arbinson, of Belfast, who constituted themselves into a directory to control the management of civil affairs in Ireland.

Being asked if he had any conversation with Burke before the latter left, the witness, with some irritation, demanded whether he was bound to state the purport of a private conversation.

Sir Thomas Henry said he certainly was; he had no privilege to suppress any portion of a conversation.

Witness. If I have no privilege, I shall claim it as a right.

Sir Thomas Henry. You have no such right; you are sworn to tell the whole truth, and you must tell the whole.

Witness. Then you will have to question it out of me.

Dr. Kenealy. That must be taken down.

Sir Thomas Henry. Of course; it is being taken down.

At Dr. Kenealy’s request it was read over by Mr. Humphreys, the second clerk.

Dr. Kenealy said he thought the witness used the word “extorted.”

Witness. I said “questioned,” but I meant it in that sense.

From this point the witness answered all general questions with such curtness as to afford no intelligible information, and declined to remember anything that was not put to him specifically. On the other hand, all specific questions were objected to by Dr. Kenealy, who objected to Mr. Poland leading the witness. In each instance Sir Thomas Henry overruled the objection, saying that if the witness was hostile leading questions must be put. Upon this Dr. Kenealy said he did not believe that the witness was really hostile, for he must have given the information to the attorney for the prosecution, and by the course he was adopting every point of that glib statement was being put to him cut and dried, and he had only to say “yes” and “no.” The witness indignantly denied that he had given the information to the solicitor to the prosecution, and declared that he did not know how they obtained it, but he was not accountable for it.

Sir Thomas Henry said the witness would be obliged to tell the whole truth at last, and he had much better give his evidence frankly, and not subject counsel to so much trouble and annoyance.

The witness did not see that. He thought it was much better that he should be questioned.

The examination proceeded for some time at a very slow rate, discussions on these points being renewed at almost every question. By this tedious process the following evidence was extracted from him: “In a conversation in London Burke told me that he had been in Birmingham in the Fenian business, purchasing arms, (rifles it is understood,) which had been shipped to Ireland. I do not remember that he said anything about caps or powder. He said that some of them were seized, I am not sure where, but I think he said at Queenstown. He said that he went by the name of C. E. Windsor. I do not know what the initials stood for.”

At this point the discussion being renewed, Sir Thomas Henry again recommended the witness to save further trouble by stating the whole truth. It was useless to give so much trouble when he knew he must answer at last, and he was only wasting time.

Witness. Then if I do I must go through it from the beginning. Captain Burke said he had been to Birmingham and had purchased arms for the Fenians. He mentioned that he had obtained credit for £900. I cannot think for what time he said he had the credit. I think he did name the time, but I cannot think well enough to swear to it. I saw Fariola in London, at the lodgings of Cluseret, and also in Bedford square and Great Portland street. I think it was No. 5 in the square and 137 in Portland road. I do not recollect seeing Fariola at Kelly’s, but I think he had called there. Fariola was chief of the staff to Cluseret. He was usually addressed as General Fariola. I last saw him at the court-house in Dublin during the trial of General Halpin. When I left London, in February, I went to Dublin, having been appointed commander-in-chief there. That appointment took place at the residence of General Cluseret, at which I was not present, but was informed of it by Kelly. Two delegates and General Cluseret were there. It was a meeting of the directory. I went through the different sections in Ireland, except in the north. It was appointed that the rising was to take place at midnight on the 5th of March. That arrangement was made in London, at Kelly’s quarters, by him, Kelly, and Halpin combined.

Dr. Kenealy objected to this as hearsay testimony.

The witness, with some temper, declared that it was not hearsay, that he had it [Page 35] direct from Kelly, and mutteringly added that the learned counsel “must have a very thick head.”

Sir Thomas Henry advised the witness not to lose his temper while giving evidence.

The witness continued. On the 4th of March I was at Cork, and went to Limerick junction to make preparations for the following night. I was arrested there at 12 o’clock at midnight, on the arrival of the up train from Cork. I never saw Burke in London, but after he left Macroom I had a letter from him in London. I have not got it now, and do not know what has become of it. It is not my custom to keep such letters. I think it was dated from Waterford. I could not give its purport. I am not sure whether it was signed Wallis or Winslow. It was directed “Mr. Cleburne, 7 Tavistock street.” I only know one Tavistock street, that which is off Tottenham Court road.

The witness here complained of fatigue, and by order of Sir Thomas Henry was accommodated with a seat.

Dr. Kenealy said he would reserve his cross-examination of this witness, but he should take this opportunity of asking what course Mr. Poland proposed to take with regard to Casey, who was only concerned in the minor charge.

Mr. Poland said he must admit that at present he was not prepared to carry the case further as against Casey; but from the result of inquiries which had been made by the police, he believed that if Casey were again remanded the case as against him might hereafter assume a more serious character.

Sir Thomas Henry said there was no doubt that Casey had assisted Burke in an attempt to escape.

Dr. Kenealy asked if Casey was to be included in the charge of treason-felony.

Sir Thomas Henry certainly inferred from the observations of Mr. Poland that it was not improbable.

Dr. Kenealy said that if so there ought to be some evidence to show a foundation for the charge.

Sir Thomas Henry. Not when counsel for the prosecution say that probably such evidence will be forthcoming hereafter.

Dr. Kenealy. But he is being kept in prison.

Sir Thomas Henry. He would be liable to some imprisonment for the assault. If there is no ground for the graver charge, I shall take his detention into account in dealing with the assault.

Dr. Kenealy. With that assurance from your worship I can have no further objection.

Mr. Poland then called George Kylock. I am a percussion-cap and ammunition maker and general dealer in fire-arms, at 45 Little Hampton street, Birmingham. I carried on that business in December, 1865. I know the prisoner Burke, though not by that name. I first saw him at my office, I believe, December 23. He had been before, and spoken to my assistant about a purchase of things which he had in stock. He mentioned to me that he had agreed with her for the purchase of a quantity of percussion caps. He saw me to settle the price, as the girl could not complete the transaction without me. He gave the name of Edward C. Winslow. He was stopping at the King’s Head. At the time, or shortly afterwards, he had a place at 64 George street. He did not tell me who he was, except that he represented a mercantile firm. At other times he mentioned that there were three in the firm. The first lot I supplied him with were 250,000 small percussion caps, and 40 of Lemaitre and Girard’s ten-shooter revolvers. There were also cases for the percussion caps. The cost of that first lot was £385 7s. 6d. The military percussion caps were in 20 cases, lying at the station to my order. When he paid me the money I gave him the order to receive them. He paid me the money on the spot. The order was in the form of a letter to Crowley & Co., the agents of the railway company. The 40 revolvers were delivered to his man Mallidy. I have his receipt here. I think he said he wanted a lot of revolvers. I said I could get them. I bought a lot from different makers, and he examined them at my office. He did not say what number he should want; I understood it would depend upon the price and quality; I understood a few hundreds, as many as could be got at a certain price and quality. You cannot get an unlimited number. I went with him more than once to Mr. Hill, a pistol maker, very soon after I first saw him—possibly the same day. We went to see what he had in stock. Winslow looked at a good many lots. I think his object in going was to point out to me the articles suitable for his trade. I made the purchases from Hill. I do not think Winslow bought anything direct from him. I have furnished to Mr. Pollard, of the treasury solicitor’s office, a list of all the goods supplied by me to the prisoner. From first to last—that is, between the 23d of December, 1865, and the 13th of January, 1866—I sold him 657 revolvers. The gross price of the goods supplied was £1,972 odd, which was all paid but £18. That was for some cases which were to have been returned, and, as he did not send them back, they were charged to his account. All the goods were paid for. Besides the pistols there were some rifles, and also the implements that usually go with fire-arms—bullet moulds and the keys to lock and unlock the guns, if you regard them as separate articles from the guns. The payments were invariably made in cash; the money was paid when the [Page 36] invoice was made out, with one exception. I had asked him to have a lot of rifles, and one day he came to me in a hurry and said he would take the lot, but I must give him credit till Saturday. I think this was on Thursday. At first I demurred to this, but we had become rather intimate since I first met him, and I had taken a liking to him from his agreeable manner. He is a particularly agreeable fellow; so, after some talk, I said I would run the risk, and let him have them. The price was 21s. 6d. each, and they came to £698 1s. 6d. The entry in my book is dated the 28th of December. I think that is the correct day. There were other goods ordered the same day, but they were paid for at the time. He was to have come to my office to pay for them on the Saturday, but he did not come. On Sunday, feeling rather uneasy at having this £700 floating about, I rode into town and called upon him at the King’s Head Hotel in Worcester street, where he was staying. He said he was very glad to see me to pay me the money. I said I was equally glad to see him. He paid me the money. The rifles were packed in cases of 20, and the revolvers were loose, without any cases at all. The revolvers were delivered at his place in George street, to his man Mallidy. The witness here perceiving that the prisoner Casey was watching him with a somewhat peculiar smile, or rather grin, on his countenance, exclaimed, “I believe that is Mallidy. Now I see him laugh, I believe it is the man.”

After a pause, during which the witness contemplated intently the no longer laughing face of Casey amidst the most profound silence,

Dr. Kenealy said this was a most serious matter, and he hoped the witness would be careful.

In answer to questions from Mr. Poland and Sir Thomas Henry, the witness added: I could not swear to him, as I took so little notice of him there. It is one of the men I saw at Winslow’s, if it is not Mallidy, but I think it is he. There was an inscription over the door, “C. E. Winslow & Co., merchants and commission agents,” I think. I am not quite sure about the “merchants.” Winslow never told me he could make any composition. I have heard him speak about a sort of fire. When some stuff was seized at Liverpool I said “That must be the stuff that Winslow was always talking about,” and that was the reason I first suspected that he was a Fenian. I don’t recollect any conversations. I only remember his talking about it; not what he said. It was called “Greek fire.” I think he said he knew how it was made. After he left Birmingham I received from him the two letters produced:

“January 29, 1866.

“Dear Sir: I do deeply regret that I can’t give you some orders. My messenger has returned from London and brought me no definite satisfaction. In short, I shall be compelled to go there and attend to matters personally. My health is improved, so that I think I may come straight soon. I am, however, positive on the subject of continued trade with you. Please present to Mrs. Kylock my best wishes for welfare of self and little Ellen, and receive the assurance of continued business activity, though postponed, and of personal friendship.


London, February 5, 1866.

“Dear Sir: I would have written ere this, but certain business here and in Glasgow kept me constantly occupied, added to which I may plead an illness of six weeks. I hope yourself, your lady, and little Ellen are quite well. Please present to Mrs. Kylock my most sincere wishes for welfare and happiness. I want a full quotation of prices embracing Enfields, Whitworths, carbines, pistols, revolvers, size and quality, and of all the accompanying materials, as I expect to do a fair business with you very soon, and want to be posted up. How is Hill? Has he ever got over that interesting difference of opinion which existed between you? I don’t quite forget that pistol you promised me. By Jove! I must have that when I see you next. I am going down to Woolwich, and will be back in three or four days’ time. I want you to write me by return of post. I will stop at the International Hotel, near the Southeastern Railway station, London bridge, and will expect to find a note from you when I return. Pardon haste. Kind regards to Ruberry.


“(‘The man of many apologies.’)”

The witness also produced a pressed copy of a letter from himself to the prisoner, replying in equally friendly terms, and inclosing the required quotations. The Mr. Ruberry referred to was a private friend of witness.

Mr. William James Hill, of 9 St. Mary’s row, Birminghan, gun and pistol maker, stated: At the end of 1865 Mr. Kylock came to my place with the prisoner, who said his name was Winslow, and asked what quantity of revolvers I had got, and what were the lowest prices. I told him the prices, and he asked if that would be the lowest if he took a large quantity, and what I considered a large order. I said “one or two [Page 37] hundred.” He replied, “I don’t consider that a large order; I can give you a far larger order than that.” He then asked what quantity I could supply by the following Wednesday. I told him, and he desired me to send them. He said he could take any quantity I could supply for eight or nine months. I said I could let him have 100 a week. The prisoner examined a portion of the stock. On Wednesday I sent the quantity agreed upon to Mr. Kylock’s office. They were to be paid for by Mr. Kylock. I saw the prisoner a great many times, The quantities supplied by me to Mr. Kylock for the prisoner were: on the 27th of December, 135; on the 29th of December, 40; on the 4th of January, 49; and on the 7th of January, 28. I made a pistol for Mr. Kylock, for a gift, for which I charged him £5 10s. That was the cost price, or thereabout. I made a larger quantity of revolvers for the prisoner, but did not supply them, in consequence of a misunderstanding between me and Mr. Kylock. I did not know what Winslow wanted the arms for, but having heard him say something about the southern confederacy, I thought it was for that.

Eliza Lambert, 7 Tavistock street, Bedford square, identified the prisoner Burke and the witness Massey as having lodged there in January or February, 1868, under the names of Wallis and Cleburne. Wallis (the prisoner Burke) left first. She could not tell the date. Had no rent book. Never kept one against them. They had the front room on the third floor, for which they paid 10s. a week rent. About a fortnight after they left, Inspector Clark, of the detective force, called upon her.

Mr. Poland here applied for a further remand.

Dr. Kenealy hoped the prisoners would not be remanded from week to week. The prosecution had had one week already, and surely the case might be closed at the next examination.

Sir Thomas Henry said that after the evidence which had been given that day the prosecution could hardly be accused of wasting time.

Mr. Poland said the police were still engaged in inquiries, from which further results were being obtained, and he certainly could not pledge himself to complete the case on the next occasion.

Dr. Kenealy hoped Casey would be admitted to bail.

Sir Thomas Henry could not consent to that after the recognition of Casey by Mr. Kylock.

Dr. Kenealy. But did you observe the manner in which that evidence was given?

Sir Thomas Henry. I did, and do not take the view of it which you would suggest.

Both prisoners were again remanded.